Before this trip abroad I studied Italian for four years in high school and for three semesters at Alabama. Italian has always come to me pretty easily so I didn’t expect it to be any different while taking classes in Italy. I was wrong. It’s not even that the material I am learning here is more difficult, it is just taught very differently. I attend Scoula Leonardo da Vinci, a school for foreigners in Florence, Italy, so my classes are made up of students from all over the world. This makes things difficult from time to time because there is no one common language that everyone in the classroom can understand and speak besides Italian, which we are all still in the process of learning. Because of this, my classes are taught entirely in Italian and we can only speak in Italian during class. Although this was a shock at first and difficult to adjust to, I believe that it has already helped improve my speaking and listening skills immensely. I struggled at first because I am used to learning new words and concepts by having my teacher explain them to me in English, whereas here in Italy my professor explains new words and concepts by either drawing pictures, pointing to things, or using more Italian words to describe a concept. The best part about studying abroad so far has been being pushed out of my comfort zone. From the classroom to the dinner table, I am constantly being forced to practice speaking and listening to the language because my professor and my house mom speak little to no english. I feel that I have already learned more while studying abroad for two weeks than I did during the past three semesters simply because I am constantly being exposed to the language and putting it to use.
A view of Isola d’Elba from above. It is located the small island town of Portoferraio, 45 minutes off the coast of Tuscany. It is most widely known as the island where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled.